Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion

Mo Willems, HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (52p) ISBN 978-0-06-192957-1
In this poignant vacation-themed conclusion to Willems's Knuffle Bunny series, Trixie accidentally forgets her beloved stuffed toy on an international flight, as she travels from Brooklyn to Holland with her parents to visit her Dutch grandparents. Willems emphasizes the way Trixie handles the crisis with all the maturity she can muster: "Trixie tried to enjoy going to the café and the swings in the playground," but "[s]he missed her Knuffle Bunny." Her knowing grandparents note "how big she was getting. Trixie understood. She was getting bigger. Even if she wished she wasn't." Willems's color caricatures, superimposed on grayscale photos, track Trixie's shifting moods and resolve, and a gatefold pictures Trixie's cathartic dream of the rabbit meeting other children worldwide. In the previous books, the prodigal Knuffle Bunny always returns, and Trixie always needs him. Here, a growing Trixie proves capable of letting go and, when the rabbit reappears, she chooses the terms of their good-bye. Willems's affectionate saga comes to a reassuring end, letting readers know they can release the treasured objects of childhood without losing their identities or their families' love. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/13/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
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